With so much concern about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, the forgotten virus is Human Immunodeficiency Virus, causing AIDS.
In 1981, the Center For Disease Control established the term “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome” or AIDS. The disease was initially found among gay men and had been transferred to humans from monkeys. AIDS spread rapidly and caused many deaths. In 1885, Dr. Mathilde Krim and the National AIDS Research Foundation merged to form amfAR to battle AIDS. In 1995 the FDA approved a protease inhibiter, a new class of drugs that reduced the AIDS fatalities. By 2006 mother to child HIV transmission in the United States had declined to less than 2%. All that is progress, but not a cure.
Doctors are still treating AIDS cases with medicines that are a means of control. The disease continues to be a worldwide pandemic. In 2019, 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV. Today, 38 million people are living with HIV. There were 770,000 deaths due to AIDS in 2019, and HIV rates are rising. Stem-cell transplant is making strides toward a cure, but research is slow and expensive. The organization amfAR has invested $550 million in programs aiming for a cure.
The story of AIDS is very similar to the story of COVID-19. Both were contracted initially as a result of human activity with animals. A virus may be inactive in an animal and very active in a human. Lifestyle is a major issue in both HIV and COVID-19. If humans would follow the instructions God has given us in His Word, neither of these viruses would be active in human populations. In both cases, a total cure is unlikely, especially for those of us with limited incomes.
The forgotten virus, HIV, doesn’t make headlines in the media, but it continues to be an issue for millions of people. That fact should send a message that applies to the world we live in today. We should learn from our previous mistakes and understand that. We should not have to go through one pandemic after another before realizing that God’s rules for relationships of all kinds have a purpose. We should recognize the truth of Jeremiah’s prayer: “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”
— John N. Clayton © 2020
Data from amfAR letter of 10/20.